2010's "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" was a solid family-targeted adventure with an unforced educational bent dipped in ancient Greek mythology. Based upon the first young adult novel in a series of five by Rick Riordan, the movie did only okay business in the U.S., earning $88-million on a $95-million budget, but was more popular overseas. With the cumulative box-office take helping the project break even and then some, 20th Century Fox has seen fit to adapt Riordan's second book for the big screen. Coming to theaters a long three-and-a-half years later, "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" is the clear-cut product of a studio fearful of taking chances and spending the money necessary to stand confidently alongside its predecessor. Certainly a film's cost has nothing to do with how good a film is, but the whole enterprise this time suffers from being blatantly chintzy and regrettably bland, the location shooting of the first picture swapped for studio backlots and the original A-list adult cast either discarded (e.g., Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Sean Bean, Uma Thurman) or replaced by more cost-effective actors (Anthony Stewart Head takes over for Pierce Brosnan as Centaurian Half-Blood activities director Chiron). The drop in quality and care is kind of a bummer.
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